Government exempts home improvements, low-risk building work from consents process

'Do it yourself', a mantra for good old Kiwi ingenuity, is now easier than ever as the Government scraps the need for consents on low-risk building work, such as sheds, sleep-outs and carports.

The decision, announced by the Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa on Sunday morning, will allow the construction sector to kickstart important work on larger projects, providing more employment opportunities and assisting New Zealand's post-COVID recovery. 

Single-storey detached buildings up to 30 square metres - such as sleep-outs, sheds, greenhouses, carports and awnings - no longer require a council-approved building consent. 

The new exemptions to the Building Act will save homeowners $18 million in consenting costs each year and reduce consent applications by 9000, although all projects must still comply with the Building Code.  

"These changes will save New Zealanders time and money and mean councils can focus on higher-risk building work, boosting the building and construction sector in the COVID-19 recovery," Salesa said.

Some of the exemptions will utilise the Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs) scheme, which recognises building practitioners who have been assessed as competent to carry out work essential to the structure or weathertightness of residential buildings. 

"[It] allows them to join chartered professional engineers and certifying plumbers in having their own suite of exemptions," Salesa said.

"Every New Zealander deserves a warm, dry, safe home, and this Government is finding ways to help build more houses by unclogging the building consent process, making it quicker and more affordable."

The exemptions are just one element of the minister's broader building system reform programme, which includes building law reforms, the Construction Sector Accord Transformation Plan and the Construction Skills Action Plan.

The package provides six new exemptions and expands four of the current exemptions.

Proposals for building work exemptions include:


  • larger single-storey detached buildings up to 30 square metres
  • carports with a maximum floor area of 40 square metres
  • awnings 
  • verandas and porches
  • outdoor fireplaces or ovens
  • flexible water storage bladders for irrigation and firefighting only, up 200,000 litres in storage capacity
  • short-span bridges on private land without public access
  • detached single-storey pole sheds and hay barns.

The majority of the new exemptions are expected to commence at the end of August, after the necessary changes to the Building Act have been made.

The minister notes that DIYers may still choose to apply for a building consent to ensure the work is compliant with the Building Code.